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Firearms Account for About 2 Percent of Child Injuries

Firearm injuries more severe, more often require intensive care, and have higher death rate

TUESDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- In level 1 trauma centers in Denver and Aurora, Colo., about 2 percent of pediatric injuries result from firearms, according to a research letter published in the April 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Angela Sauaia, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Colorado School of Public Health in Denver, and colleagues queried the trauma registries of two level 1 trauma centers in Denver and Aurora, from 2000 to 2008, to investigate temporal trends of fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries in children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 years.

The researchers found that, of 6,920 total injuries, 129 (1.9 percent) were caused by firearms (2.1 percent in 2000 to 2002; 1.9 percent in 2003 to 2005; and 1.6 percent in 2006 to 2008). Patients wounded by firearms were more likely to be adolescents and their injuries were more likely to be self-inflicted. Intensive care was required by 50.4 percent of patients with firearm injuries versus 19.3 percent of those with other trauma (odds ratio, 2.35), while 13.2 and 1.7 percent, respectively, died (odds ratio, 9.93). Over time, the severity of firearm injuries increased significantly; however, there were no significant differences over time based on age, sex, race/ethnicity, case fatality, or intensive care requirements.

"Compared with other serious injuries, firearm injuries were more severe, more often required intensive care, and claimed more lives, justifying focusing on pediatric firearm injuries as a prevention priority," the authors write.

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